Garry Thomas Gifford, son of Elbert Gifford and Helen Yates Gifford, was born in San Bernardino California, on March 15, 1946, and passed away at home in Manteca, California, surrounded by family and loved ones on August 18, 2018. He is survived by Janice Gifford, his wife of 37 years, by his children Cherine, Debbie, Brian, Deanna, and Coby, by his grandchildren Ashly, Benjamin, Amanda, Amber, Katelynn, and Alexis, by his great-grandchildren Destinee, Amya, and Braylee, and by many nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends. The youngest of six children, Garry was preceded in death by his twin brother Larry, his older brothers Jimmy, Billy, and Bobby, and his older sister Eva Claudine.
Garry spent his early childhood years among the farms, fields and woods of McFarland California and graduated from Encinal High School in Alameda, California. It was in Alameda where he met his closest lifelong friend, Gary Mize, and, later, his wife Janice.
Though Garry lived most of his life in the Bay Area and Manteca, in his heart he remained a proud country boy. He maintained his sense of wonder at nature and the outdoor world, and could tell you the name of every fish, bird, animal, plant, flower, tree and orchard he saw. He absorbed life experiences: a partial list of his hobbies and interests includes scouting, swim team, marching band, surfing, hot rodding, waterskiing, boating, coaching little league baseball, darts, golf, southwest art, antiquing, and cooking. He spent many happy years as the skipper of the American Pie, seeking adventure on the high seas of inland California. People who did not know him were often surprised he could dance. People who knew him well were not.
However, none of these activities came close to Garry’s lifelong passion for fishing. He claimed to have caught every sportfish that ever swam in a California lake, river, creek, estuary, bay or coastline—with the exception of the California Sheephead—and also dropped his lines in the waters of Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Florida, Hawaii, and Mexico. Garry’s patience in trying to teach his children the fisherman’s art became part of the family’s lore. Though they fished happily, they mostly did so as a way of spending time by his side as he patiently performed his own kind of magic with hooks, bait, bobbers and jigs.
Between fishing trips, Garry somehow managed to work in the construction trade for over fifty years. He began his career as an apprentice carpenter in the 1960s, became a journeyman, built an interior trim business with his brother Bobby, ran jobsites for building contractors, and retired as an estimator. He worked as if building was his mission. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that in any city or town in the Bay Area, you can find a home, apartment, or office building with a nail driven by Garry Gifford. Over his career, he trained and mentored countless younger carpenters, including his sons and several nephews. He found true brotherhood in the trade, and priceless, lifelong friendships with other carpenters and tradesmen.
Throughout his life, Garry found his greatest joys and comforts in his family, particularly in the company of his wife (and occasional fishing buddy) Janice. Her love and care increased his happiness in the good times, and sustained him in times of disappointment and sorrow. Together, they made a life filled with a love that endures beyond his passing.
Garry will be missed deeply by all whose lives he touched.
P.L. Fry & Son is honored to be serving the Gifford family. A rosary/vigil will be held on Wednesday August 29, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at P.L. Fry & Son Chapel 290 N. Union Rd. Manteca. A Mass will be held on Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church 505 E. North St. Manteca. He will be laid to rest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery. An online guest book is available for condolences to the family at www.plfryandson.com